Brainerd Minnesota's Newest Golf Course - The Lehman 18 - Is Amazing
Lehman 18 Opens Rennovated Course
By Scott Kramer
Prior to this week, my experience with golf in Minnesota was nonexistent. However, I am pleased to have initiated my golfing journey in the state by teeing off at its latest gem, The Lehman 18. Situated at Cragun's Resort in Brainerd, this course is part of the Legacy Courses collection.
The course takes its name from its creator, the esteemed Tour professional and Minnesota native, Tom Lehman. Spanning an impressive 7,401 yards from the back tees, the layout has been open for play since the previous autumn. The official inauguration, however, occurred just this week. As the course winds its way through a vast expanse of 1,000 acres, encompassing wetlands and woodlands, it undeniably offers an exceptional golfing experience.
The greens are expansive and undulating, showcasing an impressive consistency in their rolling. Many of these greens feature multiple tiers, yet our group found the breaks to be reasonable and devoid of complete unpredictability. While the fairways boast ample width, providing generous landing areas for tee shots, cunning side openings occasionally lead shots astray into the rough.
The landscape offers breathtaking vistas, particularly on the holes that border the expansive Stephens Lake. A distinct trademark of Lehman's design, the bunkers are characterized by their short sidewalls atop the sand. Surprisingly, the terrain is more open than my initial expectations, lending a sensation of seclusion within a natural sanctuary on numerous holes. Unanticipated elevation changes further enhance the Northern Minnesota course experience.
Thanks to the variety of tee box options, I am convinced that this course will deliver both enjoyment and accessibility across a range of skill levels.
"Having grown up 90 minutes from here, it's great to return to be a part of this resort's golf legacy," says Lehman. While it's a brand-new course, several of the holes sit on what were the fairway corridors of a previous course. It was all part of a multi-million dollar renovation.
The counterpart to The Lehman 18, known as The Dutch Course, initially designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. in 1997, welcomed golfers to its recently renovated Blue Nine earlier this summer. This course is the annual host of the PGA TOUR Canada's CRMC Championship presented by Gertens. The Championship layout, comprising the Blue and White Nines, spans a distance of 7,001 yards.
While sharing certain qualities with The Lehman 18, such as impeccable conditioning from tee to green, The Dutch Course possesses its distinct character and array of challenges. Personally, I discovered it to be more formidable in terms of scoring. Whether attributed to my performance or not, The Dutch Course undoubtedly demands precision in shot-making. It is clear that this course requires well-executed shots to navigate successfully.
In the upcoming year, we can anticipate the unveiling of the Red Nine, which is undergoing an extensive revitalization under Lehman's proactive direction. I had the privilege of taking a golf cart tour of this upcoming addition and was truly impressed by its layout and design. I'm already looking forward to a future visit, envisioning a total of 45 remarkable holes on this property.
Lehman shared insights into the magnitude of the endeavor, stating, "We embarked on a comprehensive project that involved the renovation of 31 existing holes and the creation of 14 new ones. This substantial undertaking spanned over three years, a period in which we navigated the weather limitations of Minnesota. However, the site's splendid topography and accommodating sand base made the process remarkably smooth. Our commitment to meticulousness was unwavering, leaving no aspect untouched. I hold the aspiration of positioning this destination among the most distinguished golfing venues in the region." Mission accomplished.
The resort, nestled on the picturesque Gull Lake, boasts a diverse selection of dining options, including the delightful inclusion of pan-seared walleye on their menus. Among my memorable culinary experiences, the pot roast at Irma's Kitchen and the delectable prime rib enjoyed during the resort's dinner boat sunset cruise around Gull Lake stand out. The latter served as the perfect finale to our enriching two-day retreat at the resort. Embracing a wide spectrum of outdoor activities for individuals, families, and groups, the resort showcases a mile-long sandy beach, scenic biking and hiking trails, engaging pickleball courts, and invigorating watersports.
While our group found lodgings in golf-centric houses situated on the property, the resort also extends accommodations in the form of main lodge rooms and private cabins that provide captivating vistas of the lake.
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Revised: 08/09/2023 - Article Viewed 309 Times
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About: Scott Kramer
Scott Kramer, former senior editor of Golf Magazine, is a freelance golf equipment writer based in Carlsbad, Calif. - the unofficial capitol of the golf equipment industry. His work can be found on a regular basis in publications, such as T&L Golf, PGA Magazine, Met Golfer, Golf Tips and Private Clubs.